What to do in case of formula shortage

CLEVELAND (WJW) – Eleven-month-old Isaiah likes a good snack and while he may be thinking about a burger right now, formula will be part of his daily routine for at least a little longer.

But finding formula for many parents is a bit difficult right now. Global shortages are also affecting US store shelves.

“It was embarrassing. We usually get it at Costco. At first I tried to fill up and they limited it to two at a time, or two [stores] where we’ve been they haven’t had any and I know my sister in law who has a baby too and orders Similac on Amazon and sometimes it’s out of stock.” said Isiah’s mother, Katie Goldby.

It’s the same story all over the country.

Two things happened here. The biggest infant formula makers, Abbott and Mead Johnson, have both had problems getting some of the ingredients they need, which has slowed production.

Also a large recall of certain batches of Similac and two other brands in February exacerbated the supply problem.

Even if your usual brand isn’t available, pediatricians say most children can adapt to another brand.

“I’m sure there are taste differences and every baby has preferences, but if you have to change formulas, you should be fine. The only exception would be babies taking special types of formulas like certain hypoallergenic formulas or elemental formulas,” said Dr. Lauren Beene of Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital Suburban Pediatrics.

Dr. Beene says they get a lot of questions from parents about what to do when their favorite brand of formula isn’t available.

She says don’t use cow’s or goat’s milk. It has nowhere near correct nutrition for an infant and could cause problems.

Also, don’t think about diluting the formula you already have to make it stretch. You can switch brands, but all formulas must be given in the correct mix.

“The content of the formula, especially the electrolytes, sodium, potassium and all that, is in a very specific ratio and when diluted with additional water, it becomes too dilute and the baby’s kidneys don’t aren’t mature enough to properly filter the extra water.” said Dr. Beene.

Dr. Beene encourages parents who are having trouble finding formula to talk to their pediatrician, as they may be able to direct them to resources that can help.

Major infant formula makers say they hope to recover stocks, but no timetable has yet been set.

For parents, limitations and shortages will continue to be painful.

“Generally, we try to get value for money. It’s mostly frustrating [when] there is limited availability and there is less choice and you have to choose something expensive. Luckily he’s not picky, but some babies are,” says Goldby.

Dr. Beene says if you have any questions about infant formula, you should contact your pediatrician.

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